chapter  8
8 Pages

How Were and How Are Emblems Read?

I am told that a speaker at the 2011 Glasgow emblem conference-not an emblem scholar by profession-observed that he was surprised at what he termed the positivism of many of the presentations that he heard. I do not wish to take up his term positivism, although I do have views on that matter. But his criticism did provoke other thoughts. It started me thinking again about how one reads emblems.1 Reading emblems is a problem. I am not asking whether we start with the picture and return to the texts, or vice versa. Even here we have little if any information from early modern readers. What do we really know? What evidence do we have of ways of reading emblems?